Review Summary: Pinbacks debut album gives you a feel of where the band derived its unique song structure and beautiful rhythms that we see in its current albums today.
The other day I was surfing the web and decided to take a look at my last.fm page. I don’t do this very often, I use last.fm for finding new music and such but never really paid much attention to the lists it has recorded of all the music I had played. As I was browsing through it I noticed something, all 10 tracks on “Pinback” ranked in at numbers 2-11 on my “most played overall” song list, only being beaten out by my #1 played track of all time “Balloons” by Foals. Pinback’s debut album “Pinback”, also referred to as “This is a Pinback CD” is my most listened to album of all time, and defiantly one of my favorites.
Armistead Burwell Smith IV (Three Mile Pilot) and Rob Crowe (Thingy) formed Pinback in California in 1998. The band got their name from a character in a movie called Dark Star named Sgt. Pinback. There are audio clips used from this movie in some songs not only on this album but others as well.
This album is where Pinback first started, where they invented their signature sound. It is very basic, in later albums you can see how they evolved and incorporated new elements into their song writing and composition. “Autumn of the Seraphs”, the duo’s newest album, has a completely different feel from that of their debut album. This is not a bad thing, artists should always evolve and try new things in music. But it is in “Pinback” where you can truly understand everything that Crowe and Smith are trying to create. There is so much attention to detail, so many different layers of intricate bass lines and guitar riffs that weave in and out of each in perfect melody. The sound they create can only be described as beautiful, yet it is so basic. They did something that not many artists do: they created something amazing and then did not mess with the formula at all. They didn’t try to hype it up or add any crazy effects to it. No, this album is Pinback bearing it all for you to see.
The first song on the track, “Tripoli” is a perfect example of this. It is basically one bass line and guitar riff that continues throughout the entire song, they barely even switch it up at the chorus. It’s the timing and how they layer every instrument on top of one another that makes it so unbelievably good. The song is a steady, incredibly peaceful, incredibly catchy driving bass line that Crowe sings to as Smith coos over it. Everything is layered so well creating this masterpiece of a song that is so down to earth, it blows my mind. Not only are the musical stylings of the duo breathtaking but the lyrics are amazingly deep. “Sad I’m gonna die, hope it’s gonna happen later, later, than I think”, if you research more into the song you will discover that Tripoli was the site of a battle in a great war. It’s really something to think about while you listen to the song and makes the whole listening experience even better.
“Tripoli” is upbeat when compared to other songs on the album such as “Loro”. "Loro" is probably the most peaceful song I have ever heard in my entire life. And I am not exaggerating when I say that the instrumentals do not change throughout the entire song. It is the same riff over and over again, but you could listen to it forever and not get sick of it. The riff goes on as Crowe begins to sing, “And the ripped ones say good bye, as the others meet, attached somewhere, at least their shared. And the ripped ones never collide, as the others, as the others.” These are the only lyrics in the song, aside from smith gently singing “4, 9, 5, 3, 1” I cannot tell you how many times I have fallen asleep to this song. I wouldn’t even call it a song, it’s better referred to as a piece of art.
“Pinback” has its upbeat and catchy songs too, “Crutch” is a good diversion from the rest of the albums slow and quiet feel. They switch up the riffs when they go in and out of choruses which doesn’t necessarily create a different feel from the rest of the album, for they still manage to layer everything they play with pinpoint accuracy creating a sincerely beautiful tune, but defiantly stands out as something more upbeat.
All in all this is an amazing album from an amazing duo of musicians. Another point to note is that they do not use live drums for the majority of their songs. They also sample Vincent Price from the 1964 version of “I am Legend.” You can tell this is a CD made by highly intelligent people. Not just because of the sampling or the derivative of their name, but just how they compose music and layer things so incredibly well. They really have a handle on what they’re doing. Although they have released many albums since “Pinback” came out, it stands as a classic showing where Pinback started and is truly something to be admired. It is a necessity for any avid Pinback fan and is a good place to start listening if you have never listened to Pinback before.